For those of you who regularly keep up with my blog you’d know I’ve been totally absent from here for over a week. Actually, more than that. I tend to queue posts so I don’t have to stress about posting every day. And a week isn’t really that long to be away from here as I’ve been away for months before posting so it’s not that big of a deal. But I did want to talk about what’s been going on in my life. Sometimes I find it easier to deal with when I get everything out in the open without having to talk about it multiple times to different people. I’m not too sure when I’ll have the courage to post this – it’s currently Wednesday 7th Feb – so we’ll see how I feel at the end of this post.
On Wednesday 31st January my Dad died.
The weekend before that, on Friday 26th January, my Dad and his girlfriend came down to Auckland – 3 hours away from where they live – for the weekend. We spent Friday, Saturday and half of Sunday together drinking and just having a good ol’ time. If you’ll remember one of my last “personal” posts you’ll know I had a great time with them. They left my house on the Sunday just before midday.
At 2pm on Monday 29th January I got a FaceTime call from my eldest sister saying Dad had been taken to the emergency room. Apparently he was about to take the 1 hour drive from Whangarei – the city where he works – back out to where he lives. My brother called him before he’d gone too far and pretty much forced him to stop driving. He then called my older sister and made her go and get him. My brother-in-law went to meet him and Dad said he was feeling dizzy and extremely lethargic, so my bro-in-law took him to the hospital ASAP.
At around midnight on that Monday night I got another phone call from my eldest sister, Rachael, who was at the hospital with my dad. She told us that after a lot of tests they’d found out he had cancer – brain tumours in his brain which had started to bleed hence the dizziness. The doctors also said that there were a lot of tumours and operating wasn’t an option so they had to wait until he was feeling better before talking about radio therapy. They also said the tumours were secondary which meant there was a primary cancer somewhere else in his body but they needed to do more tests and scans to find where this primary location was.
On Tuesday 30th January I kept getting phone calls from different family members asking when I’d be able to go up to see Dad in hospital. Initially I was going to wait until my boyfriend came back from Melbourne, Australia – he was coming back the next day – but when my mother called almost forcing us to go up we rushed around the house. We had exactly 10 minutes to get ready before my Aunty and Uncle would pick us up and head up north to see Dad in hospital. As you can imagine, zero thought was really put into what we were packing but – unknowing to each other – we had both packed one nice outfit. Just in case.
By the time we reached Whangarei Hospital at 6pm that day my mother was waiting for us on the ground level. Apparently Dad had had a seizure only minutes before we got there so he was a little bit groggy. Seeing him for the first time is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Seeing your father, your Superman, you hero lying down on a hospital bed looking drained and with pain all across his face…it was horrible. By this time he was still alert. Although his eyes were shut and he was in and out of sleep most of the time he knew when me and my sister were there. He opened his eyes for a few seconds, calling out to us as he opened his arms for a hug.
Later on that Tuesday, at around 11pm – after two more seizures and a lot of pain killers – we decided to go back to my sister Rachael’s house and get as much sleep as we could get. We went to bed at around 12.30am before being woken up at 1.30am by a phone call from my Dads girlfriend telling us to get back to the hospital ASAP. When we got to the hospital, he was looking a little bit more pale and a little bit more in pain. We were called to the hospital because the rest of his test results had come back and the charge nurse on duty needed to talk to his immediate family as soon as possible.
She told us they had found the location of his primary cancer – in his kidney/bowel area. Because of the size of cancer in that area the nurse had told us radio therapy wasn’t an option anymore, that he would need to stay in the hospital and the best they could do was to make him as comfortable as possible. Obviously this was terrible to hear but we needed to spend as much time with him as we didn’t know how long he’d be with us.
From 1.45am to 12pm on Wednesday 31st January, we were awake. Not eating. Feeling gross. Sad. Crying and puffy eyed. Stressed. We were just…sad. At around 1pm, someone from Hospice came around to see if we could move him to a more comfortable place and hand him over to people who specialise in pain medication. Unfortunately, the Hospice guy said that his pulse was starting to slow and his skin was already starting to feel very cold. He said his body was starting to shut down and he wouldn’t have much longer left so we needed to stay with him and comfort him, to let him know we were there around him.
At 4.30pm on Wednesday 31st January – he died.
Watching your 62 year old father writhe in pain for a straight 24 hours is the worst thing a child can ever experience. I would never wish that kind of pain on anyone. I watched my dad have a good time with his daughters, be diagnosed with cancer and then pass away in the space of five days.
But thankfully he wasn’t in pain anymore which is the only thought that comforts me right now.
It’s been a week since he’s passed and in retrospect there’s a lot of things we noticed while he was alive though we never thought it would lead to such a quick and terrible end. When I’d seen him 4 days before his death I’d said to my boyfriend that Dad was looking old. His legs were skinnier and his shoulders looked more hunched.
I think he was in pain for a really long time but in pure Dad-like fashion he would never tell anyone about his pain. Instead of the cancer that was causing it, I think his heart was sore. He’d had a hard life. My grandfather had been particularly hard on him because he was the eldest boy. But his siblings had also been horribly mean to him throughout his entire life but especially in the last couple months. Due to this ill treatment from his siblings, I think his heart was too tired to carry on – he could do no more to fix their relationships with each other.
Although I’ll never be over this kind of loss the thought of him finally escaping his terrible life and no longer being in any more pain is more comforting than anything. He was a beautiful man – full of jokes, attitude, an amazing ear for music and the lessons he taught people…but I’ll miss his presence in my life the most. He is the man I’ve measured all others against. And I do have to say, my current boyfriend is an exact carbon copy of him – a gentle spirit, a man of few words, stands up for what’s right while staying away from bullshit at the same time. And he loves me unconditionally.
I don’t want a pity party nor do I want people to think of me as trying to get attention. On the contrary. I don’t expect too many to pay much attention to this post but this is more for me to get everything out. I wanted people to know I’m ok but it will take a while for me to get back to my old self and into my old routine.